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Discover how to

set up a Freshwater

Tropical Fish Tank

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Fish Tanks for Tropical Freshwater Fishes
Mike Magnum

This is an 11 step guide to setting up a freshwater tropical
fish aquarium in your home the easy and correct way.

Equipment you will need:
Aquarium gravel
Aquarium filter
Replacement filter media
Other decorations (such as plants)
Chemical test kits
Fish food
Aquarium vacuum
Fish net
Glass Scrubber
5-gallon bucket
Pasta strainer

STEP 1: Realize the responsibility involved. A tropical fish tank
is just like having a dog or a cat when it comes to the amount of
effort on your part. In order to have a successful fish tank you
will have to work at it. Once a week, or at most once every two
weeks, you will need to perform some kind of maintenance on the
tank. Most of the time you will be performing water changes. You
will also have to feed your tropical fish at least once a day. If
you are up to the challenge, please proceed!

STEP 2: Decide on an aquarium size. Itís a good idea to have in
mind what kind of tropical fish you want to keep before you
purchase an aquarium. Some tropical fish only grow to be an inch
or two, whereas other types of tropical fish can grow 12 or 13
inches in length! Knowing what kind of tropical fish you want
will help you decide the size of the tank they will need. If this
is your first time with an aquarium, I would recommend going with
a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium for now.

STEP 3: Decide on the aquarium's location. Place your aquarium in
an area where the light and temperature of the tank wonít be
affected by external sources such as windows and heater vents.
You will want to place your aquarium on a stand that will be able
to hold its total weight. A good rule of thumb for determining
the total weight of a full aquarium is 10 pounds per gallon of
water. For example, a 55-gallon tank will weigh approximately 550
pounds when filled with water!

STEP 4: Buy your aquarium and equipment. Now is the time to
decide on the type of filtration you will want to use. You will
also need to purchase a heater capable of heating the tank size
you have. Buy the gravel, plants, a power strip and other
decorations. A good rule of thumb for the amount of gravel that
you will need is 1 to 1.5 pounds of gravel per gallon of water.

STEP 5: Set up your aquarium and stand. Wash out your tank with
water only! Do not use soap or detergents. Soap residue left
behind will be harmful for your tropical fish. If you are going
to use an under gravel filter (not recommended) now would be the
time to set it up as well.

STEP 6: Wash Gravel, plants and decorations. Be sure to wash the
gravel thoroughly before adding it to your tank. An easy way to
do this is to put some of the rocks in a pasta strainer and wash
them out in your bathtub. Then place the clean gravel in a clean
5-gallon bucket for transport to the aquarium. After adding the
gravel you can place your plants and decorations.

STEP 7: Add water to the aquarium. To avoid messing up your
gravel and plants, you can place a plate or saucer in the middle
of your aquarium and direct the water flow onto the plate. Use
room temperature water when filling. To remove the chlorine and
chloramine, use something like Tetra AquaSafe for Aquariums.
Donít completely fill up the aquarium until you are sure of the
layout of your decorations. Otherwise, when you place your arm in
to move stuff around water is going to spill over. Doh!

STEP 8: Set up equipment. Install your heater but donít plug it
in until the thermostat in the heater has adjusted to the water
temperature. This usually takes about 15 minutes or so. Hook up
your filter and any other equipment you have, then top off the
aquarium water to just under the hood lip. Place your hood and
light on the aquarium and then check your power cords to be sure
that they are free of water. I would also recommend using a drip
loop on all of the power cords to be extra cautious. Plug all of
the equipment into a power strip and then ďturn onĒ the aquarium.

STEP 9. Wait, wait, wait and then wait some more. I know, you
want to add some tropical fish. But, in order to do this right
you must wait until your aquarium has cycled before adding any
fish. There are ways of speeding up this process. Check out the
nitrogen cycle page to learn more. If you must use fish to cycle,
try to get a hardier species like the zebra danio or cherry barb.

STEP 10. Add tropical fish. Only add one or two fish at a time.
Adding a couple tropical fish at a time gives your filtration
system the time needed to take on the increased biological load
that the new fish introduce. When you bring the fish home let the
bag float in the tank for about 15 minutes so that the fish can
become acclimated to the temperature and pH of the aquarium
water. After 5 minutes of floating the bag you should add some of
the aquarium water to the bag so that the fish can become
acclimated to the pH level in the aquarium. This will help reduce
the amount of stress imposed on the tropical fish. Stressed
tropical fish often leads to dead tropical fish! Donít feed your
tropical fish on the first day. They probably wouldnít eat any
food on the first day anyway. Let them get acquainted with their
new home.

STEP 11. Get ready for regular maintenance. Be prepared to spend
some time once every week or two to clean your tank. Performing
regular water changes will reduce the nitrate levels and keep
your tropical fish happy and healthy.

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